Monday, November 23, 2015

Sudsy Dog

Today we took Dylan for a bath.  Since acquiring her in August, she has been living the life of Riley or Dylan if you will; lounging, eating, playing with just a bit of obedience sprinkled in.  Dylan only had a bath the day before we picked her up from GDA in Sylmar but since has been bath free.  Nancy, our area leader, recommended we take Dylan to Sudsy Dog.  It's a "do it yourself" dog salon.  They provide everything you need to bathe your dog.   Also, the owner has raised two guide dogs and gives puppies in training a special rate of just $10.  We couldn't pass that up, so off we went.

The facility is very neat with 5 bathing stations.  They provide shampoo, conditioner, face wash, ear wash and brushes to comb out your dog.  More importantly, they provide rubber aprons to keep you dry.  Also towels and a blower to dry your dog, of which Dylan would have nothing to do with as it was way too loud.  So I just showed it to her and let her sniff the hose, finally being able to turn it on and point it at her from about 3 feet away.

Some of the other dogs were not happy to be there and let everyone know by howling and/or crying while their owners tried to hurry along to get them done and out of there.  Dylan didn't cry, or howl.  She did try and jump over the wall to escape, but afterwards was pretty calm, all things considered.

This isn't too bad!

Get me outta of here!

We also learned a valuable lesson from the owner.  While trying to get Dylan use to the blow dryer, she was cowering away and Chris, like a good mom, was telling her, "it's all right Dylan, its ok" and cuddling her.  The owner told us that by doing just that, we can instill in the dog that if there is anything that she doesn't like, she will look to us for comfort.  A blind person is not able to do that.  
Instruction comes from many places.  We just need to be aware and raise Dylan like we are blind.  

Easier said than done!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Meeting a recipient!

Monday was our monthly meeting with the South Bay Puppy Raisers and we had a guest speaker.  Lorri Bernson is a spokeswomen for GDA.  Lorri is blind from childhood diabetes and is now with her second dog, Carter.  Carter is a Lab/Golden mix and is in the 80 pound range.  While listening to Lorri, I understood how special these dogs are and how important puppy raisers are to the program.  Lorri has been on different local news shows spotlighting GDA and service dogs in particular.  Just last night, she was on KNBC news talking about how people who are not really disabled are using the ruse of their pet being a service dog.  ADA is for "people" with disabilities, not for dogs to be taken everywhere for their owners pleasure.  Unfortunately, it really puts people with true disabilities in the awkward position of sometimes having to prove to shop owners and others that they have a service dog and not a therapy dog.  Here is a link you can copy to see this story.  Also, about 56 seconds into the story, our Dylan is shown with our puppy sitter Georgia.

Lorri has a sense of humor that puts everyone at ease.  Her stories about sighted people's interaction with her were hilarious.  For example, while talking on the phone to a customer service rep, the rep discovered Lorri was blind and complimented her by saying, "you don't sound blind."  The other is a common mistake people make when greeting blind people whom they know.  "Hi Lorri, how are you?"  She said,  "I can play 20 questions, but it's easier if you identify who you are."

Us with Lorri and her guide dog Carter

The other topic discussed was fund raising.  GDA supplies dogs free of charge to their new owners.  The cost of training just one of these dogs is about $42,000.  And, as many as 50% of the dogs don't make it due to a number reasons; temperament, distractibility and sometimes health reasons disqualify these great animals.  

Our night was a great insight to GDA and the many puppy raisers here in SoCal that made our commitment in doing this even stronger.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Get Down on it!

Today is my day with Dylan.  Chris is out playing golf with her girl friends and my job today is work with Dylan.  At 5 1/2 months, Dylan is way ahead of any puppy we have ever had.  She's smart, stubborn, and inquisitive.  All the things guide dogs are supposed to be.

Smart; she sits and waits for her food with me saying Sit...Stay!  Labs by nature are voracious eaters. She knows food is worth sitting and waiting for.  She does this just about every time.

One focused Dylan
Stubborn; if she gets an idea in her head, like being determined to pounce on Bailey, you can't stop her.  She's going for it.

Pounce time!

Bailey responds with a head lock
Inquisitive; when she sees something new, she studies it, without barking or charging at it.  That's what happened when we went to the pier and she saw a seagull and pigeons for the first time.  Not one time did she bark.

Pigeon time at Seal Beach Pier
So what does she need to work on?  Following through on commands!  That stubborn part of her seems to take hold when you want her to go from a sit to a down position.  The one time command is, Dylan - Down!  After the command, and she is NOT doing it, you take her lead and give it a quick jerk downward from her chin.  Not a pull, but a quick jerk.  She's still upright.  So then its to see which direction she is leaning while she is sitting.  Then nudge her slightly in that direction until she falls over.  Then you praise the heck out of her.  Good job Dylan, good DOWN!  I seem to be saying this in my sleep.  We, as puppy raiser, are taught one command said one time only.  Remember C.I.P?  Consistent.  Insistent.  Persistent.  And don't get commands confused.  OFF is the command when they jump on the sofa.  Down is when you want them to lay down next to you.

So I'm off to work on her downs.